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China: No open nominations for Hong Kong leader

By JACK CHANG and KELVIN CHAN

BEIJING (AP) -- China's legislature on Sunday ruled out allowing open nominations in inaugural elections for Hong Kong's leader, saying they would create a "chaotic society." Democracy activists in the Asian financial hub responded by saying that a long-threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city "will definitely happen."

The legislature's powerful Standing Committee said all candidates should be approved by more than half of a special nominating body in order to go before voters. That's at odds with demands from Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp, which staged a massive protest in July to press for genuine democracy in the Chinese territory over fears candidates would continue to be screened to assess their loyalty to Beijing.

Following the committee's widely expected decision, pro-democracy supporters rallied in a park in front of Hong Kong government headquarters.

Protests Predicted As China Limits Hong Kong Elections

Hong Kong has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since returning from British to Chinese rule in 1997, when China's communist leaders pledged to allow the city's leader, known as the chief executive, to be eventually elected through "universal suffrage" rather than by the current committee of mostly pro-Beijing tycoons. But China's growing influence in the city's affairs has sparked fears that Beijing won't hold up its end of the bargain.

Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People's Congress' Standing Committee, told a news conference that openly nominating candidates would create a "chaotic society."

"These rights come from laws, they don't come from the sky," he said. "Many Hong Kong people have wasted a lot of time discussing things that are not appropriate and aren't discussing things that are appropriate."

Hong Kong's most high-profile democracy group, Occupy Central with Love and Peace, immediately announced that a plan to "occupy" the city's Central business district would go ahead, without specifying a date.

"OCLP has considered occupying Central only as the last resort, an action to be taken only if all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and there is no other choice," the group said in a statement. "We are very sorry to say that today all chances of dialogue have been exhausted and the occupation of Central will definitely happen."

Occupy Central has vowed to rally at least 10,000 people for the massive sit-in, which could still be months away because Hong Kong's government must hold more consultations on Beijing's guidelines and then formulate a bill to be passed by the city's legislature. The group urged legislators to vote against it and "start the constitutional reform process all over again."

Making clear that Chinese leaders intend to tightly control politics in Hong Kong, Li reiterated that candidates for chief executive should be loyal to China's ruling Communist Party.

"He has to be responsible to Hong Kong and to the central government," Li said. "If Hong Kong's chief executive doesn't love the country and love the party, then that can't work in one country."

Under Sunday's guidelines, Hong Kong's 5 million eligible voters will be able to vote in 2017 for two to three candidates selected by the 1,200-member nominating committee. Then, the chief executive-elect "will have to be appointed by the Central People's Government," the Standing Committee said.

"Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner," it said.

Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that the requirement that a candidate is supported by more than half of the nomination committee "will rule out a pan-democratic candidate."

"Only if it's lowered to 20 percent can a pan-democratic candidate get in," as there could be enough political diversity in the committee to back a more democratically minded person, Lam said.

Beijing's announcement comes after a summer of protests and counter-protests that have gripped Hong Kong, including a rally two weeks ago by pro-Beijing activists to denounce Occupy Central as threatening the city's stability.

Political tensions spiked in June when Chinese officials released a policy "white paper" declaring that Hong Kong's "high degree of autonomy ... comes solely from the authorization by the central leadership."

Many read the policy paper as asserting Beijing's dominance of Hong Kong's affairs and hit the streets and the Internet in protest. Occupy Central drew Beijing's rebuke by organizing an online referendum that received nearly 800,000 votes on how to pick the city's chief executive.

On Sunday, organizers of a similar referendum in the neighboring Chinese-controlled city of Macau said 95 percent of 8,688 people had voted in favor of its leader being elected by universal suffrage in 2019. Macau's incumbent leader, Fernando Chui, was elected to a second five-year term by a Beijing-friendly committee on Sunday.

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LewTag August 31 2014 at 11:46 AM

You did not really think that China would let Hong Kong remain independent did you??>...shame.....

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7 replies
tpm August 31 2014 at 11:59 AM

China continues to openly persecute Christians every day -- physically destroying church buildings, removing crosses, assaulting Christians, arresting pastors. The world community doesn't care. Sex trafficking into China including child sex trafficking from countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Korea and Russia is now a big problem, fueled by China's brutal one-child policy. These are severe human rights violations. The world community doesn't care. By 2020, 30 million Chinese men who want to marry will be unable to find brides because their government is guilty of the world's largest gendercide known to mankind. It's horrific what the Chinese govt has done. The world just doesn't care.

Flag Reply +51 rate up
28 replies
madkono August 31 2014 at 12:13 PM

socialism at it's finest!!! and it's happening here!!! one question, why do liberal socialists always babble socialism, but live capitalism(hollywood)???

Flag Reply +45 rate up
23 replies
Jeffrey L. Orr August 31 2014 at 12:24 PM

Deep beneath the surface China has a lot of problems that the average person would not know about. I do a lot of business with China. They have massive debt. ( despite what you hear) from subsidizing much of their industry. Many factories are closing down putting people out of work. Many companies in the U.S. and Europe are sourcing from lower cost nations like Vietnam. There are strikes all the time in China demanding higher pay, better working conditions and unions are forming to demand better for their workers.
They built whole cities in the Central part of China that are virtual ghost towns. The Chinese Government has done this try to discourage the mass migration from the Cenral and Western China to the Eastern provinces in an effort to control the over population , pollution, crime and social problems. China also has a major terrorism in the Western provinces that have large muslim populations and sit right next to Muslim dominated nations. Things are as they seem.

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9 replies
buddwhyzr August 31 2014 at 12:42 PM

If it wasn't for China, Walmart's shelves would be empty. Screw them both.

Flag Reply +23 rate up
9 replies
ajt1025 August 31 2014 at 11:41 AM

China has a choke hold on ever provance it controls and will never let that change. Until the people rise up and take control of their country nothing will every change. It has to be the military that stands with the people to bring down the Comunist hold it keep on its people. China wants a war and like Russia will not stop at anything to gert one going. With all the unrest in the world today WWIII is not far away.

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7 replies
kcarthey August 31 2014 at 12:01 PM

And I suppose the War Mongering Conservatives will now demand President Obama send troops to Hong Kong as well.

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7 replies
silkroadg August 31 2014 at 12:07 PM

Looks like China has studied Mr. Obama's administration VERY well and sees CLEARLY what happens when the person in control does NOT LOVE HIS COUNTRY as much as himself or his position of power. Mr. Obama is the POSTER CHILD of what would happen if the Chinese Government didn't exercise wisdom to keep potential candidates honest. Ironic that the chaos group in HK has the same name that Mr. Obama's useful idiots had here in the US: OCCUPIERS!!! By the way, if you have never been to China for more than a little tourist cruise, then YOU have no legitimate voice in this discussion: http://www.latimes.com/la-oe-ehrenstein19mar19-story.html

Flag Reply +16 rate up
17 replies
toby August 31 2014 at 12:10 PM

Oh no...I see another Obama " We are concerned speech comin."

Flag Reply +15 rate up
4 replies
petehanse August 31 2014 at 3:13 PM

How long before Obama signs an executive order calling for government approval of all candidates running for political office?

Flag Reply +13 rate up
7 replies
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